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Friday 26, Dec 2008

  NASCAR will welcome 2009 with tougher dope testing

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nascar-steroidsAccording to AP report, NASCAR is likely to start testing drivers by the third week of January under anti-doping policy.

NASCAR is implementing tougher policy for use of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. Said policy also applies to illegal drugs and abuse of prescription medications.

Crew members, meanwhile, are required to submit results from an approved lab by Jan.16. A memo was sent to teams enumerating the prohibited compounds for which crew members must be tested. No specific guidelines were provided for drivers as NASCAR reserves the right to screen drivers for any compounds. However, according to a NASCAR’s spokesman, drivers will definitely be screened for performance-enhancing drugs.

The tougher policy was adopted partly because of former Truck Series driver Aaron Fike’s public admission that he had used heroin even on days he raced. Veteran drivers like Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick urged the association to strengthen its policy regarding the use of banned compounds.

In September this year, Ron Hornaday Jr admitted he used a testosterone cream during the 2004 and 2005 to treat a medical condition. Hornaday is suffering from Graves’ disease, a thyroid disorder characterized by goiter and exophthalmos (bulging of the eyes).

The memo, dated Dec. 8, is the first time the new policy has been laid out in writing and specifies who falls under the guidelines. Those who must be tested before Jan. 16 include: pit crew members, including “over-the-wall” crew members, the crew chief, car chief, team members responsible for tires, fuel and pit crew operation, spotters and race-day support personnel that includes engineers, engine tuners, shock specialists, chassis specialists and tire specialists.

Among the substances those participants must be tested for are:

_ Seven different amphetamines, including methamphetamine and PMA, a synthetic psychostimulant and hallucinogen.

_ Three drugs classified under ephedrine.

_ 13 different narcotics, including codeine and morphine.

_ Ten different benzodiazepines and barbituates.

_ Marijuana, cocaine, zolpidem, nitrites, chromates and drugs that can increase specific gravity.

Under the old policy, NASCAR only implemented random test based on suspicion of abuse. Under the new guidelines everyone will be tested before the season begins, and random testing will continue throughout the year. NASCAR expects to randomly test 12 to 14 individuals per series each weekend in 2009.

Monday 22, Sep 2008

  NASCAR announces new program for testing banned compounds, including steroids and other prescription drugs

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nascar-steroidsFrom the Journal Sentinel:

NASCAR will drug test all drivers in its three national series and its officials and require that all licensed crew members be tested before the start of the 2009 season as part of an updated drug policy announced Saturday.

Drivers, over-the-wall crew members and officials will then be subject to random tests throughout the year.

“We have made a very good policy even better with the addition of random tests,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said in the announcement. “NASCAR’s policy has long given us the ability to test anyone, anywhere, at anytime. Random tests now provide us and the industry with additional information.”

Perhaps a decade ago, NASCAR described its testing as random, but in reality, some people were tested more randomly than others, if you get my drift. Within the past several years, though, the sanctioning body has been under increasing scrutiny after several positive tests, and it took a huge public relations hit when former Craftsman Truck Series driver Aaron Fike admitted to using heroin even on race days.

Aaron Fike and his fiancée Cassandra Davidson were arrested by police in July 2007 at the parking lot of the Kings Island, an amusement park in Ohio. According to reports, police officers became suspicious when they saw Fike’s parked vehicle with a towel draped at the front seat in an apparent attempt to cover up what’s happening at the back seat.

The action started when officers advised the former Craftsman Truck Series racer to get out of his truck and Fike refused to cooperate by attempting to drive off. Apparently, Fike’s ability to race the speedway dis not extend to parking lot, hitting a City of Mason officer in his attempt to escape. Subsequent search of the vehicle yielded drug paraphernalia, including a syringe filled with heroin. It was reported that Davidson was the one holding the syringe in an obvious attempt to use it on her when the officers approached the vehicle (talk about being caught red-handed). The two were charged of possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia and were arraigned a few days later.

NASCAR’s policy on substance abuse governs all drugs, meaning a competitor can be found in violation for the use of a prescription medication if NASCAR believes it has been misused.

Penalties will continue to include immediate suspension from competition. Even one positive test could result in a lifetime ban, but three will automatically.

NASCAR’s tests will be administered by AEGIS Sciences Corporation, a Nashville-based company established in 1986 as an anti-doping lab.

The announcement of the updated drug policy was made at the Dover International Speedway. AEGIS Science Corporation, the company which helped develop and design the organization’s substance-abuse program, will carry out all preseason and random drug screenings. NASCAR’s vice president of racing operations Steve O’ Donnell stated that a computer-generated list would be used at “most if not all” weekends to test “from 12 to 14 people”. From that number, an average of two drivers per series would undergo testing “with the balance coming from the ranks of over-the-wall crewmen and officials,” according to NASCAR’s official website.

The case of Ron Hornaday, another Craftsman Truck Series champ, could also be one of the reasons why NASCAR has adopted a more stringent drug policy. Hornaday tested positive for an anabolic steroid, which he reportedly used during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Hornaday, however, was not penalized because he had presented legitimate reason for using the banned compound. Hornaday has Graves’ disease and that the testosterone cream was prescribed by his doctors during the diagnosis of his condition.